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Flip Side (part 1)
Uncomfortable. I look at the word and decide that it has answered the question on the board fully and pull out The Skin I’m In and begin to read: Miss Saunders is as different as they come. Mrs. Robert comes over to my desk.
“Can I see your journal Layla?” I put my book down and open my note book to the page I wrote today’s journal and start to read again: First off she’s-
“Layla,” says Mrs. Robert interrupting my reading, “I know this is the first day of school but I would like you to write a little more than one word. Maybe a sentence or two would be nice.” I look up at Mrs. Roberts. I’ve had her since first grade so we both know each other pretty well now that I’m in seventh grade; but still, sometimes it like it’s the first day of first grade all over again.
“What else are you suggesting I write?” I asked. She sighed.
“Well, the journal today is to write about how you feel about yourself. So maybe you could write about what exactly makes you feel uncomfortable about yourself. You understand?” I nodded and put my book away. I scratch off the word and uncomfortable and wrote a new sentence: Uncomfortable. I feel uncomfortable with myself because I am black. It’s not that I really mind being black it’s just that everyone in the neighborhood is white except me and then there are my hands. I mean one sides black and the flip side is white. Who has hands like that? Who wants hands that their two different colors? I know I don’t.
Mrs. Roberts looked at what I wrote, sighed, and then went back to her desk. I knew that Mrs. Robert was going to want to talk to me during lunch and then she was also going to call my mother but hey, she told me to write what I feel and I did, so there. But, I really didn’t care about that so I pulled out my book under my desk and read until Mrs. Robert start to teach. The morning lagged on. We mostly reviewed and went over new school rules and what not. By the time the bell rang I think at least half of the class had fallen asleep. As I got up to leave the room Mrs. Robert called me over to her desk. Shocker.
“Yes, Mrs. Roberts,” I say looking totally innocent. Out of the corner of my eye I see Isaac hesitate at the door.
“Layla,” says Mrs. Roberts bring me back to attention, “I want to talk to you about what you wrote in your journal today. Has anyone been bothering you lately? Did somebody say something?” I shook my head
“Nobody’s bothering me.” I say suppressing a sigh. Since the first day I moved here my parents and my teachers have been worried about me since I’m the only black person in the neighborhood. After I made a couple of friends they backed off a little I could tell that there still worried about me.
“Well I just want to know why all of the sudden you are make a reference to your racial difference. You never had a problem with it before.” I just look at Mrs. Roberts because honestly I don’t why I suddenly taking a notice to the difference between me and everyone else. It’s just that I don’t know. I keep trying to tell myself that it’s a phase and that I’m going to get over it in a couple of weeks or something, but there is this nagging feeling that I can’t shake and it’s really bugging me. I think it might have something to do with the fact that my parents aren’t really my parents. I mean sure the raised me and they love me and I love them but I was adopted before I could even walk so I don’t know who my real parents are. Mrs. Roberts cleared her throat. She could tell I had let my mind wonder again.
“Well if you don’t having anything to say Layla, well then I guess I don’t have anything to say either. I just want you to know that I will be calling your parents tonight to tell them about what you wrote.”
I nod my head and say yes like the good little girl I am. Mrs. Roberts gives me a small smile then tells me I can go to lunch. Even though my parents and Mrs. Roberts always worry about me it’s for nothing. I have awesome friends and I was reminded of that when I walked out into the hallway and found them waiting for me.
“Aww, guys you didn’t have to wait for me I would have made it to the lunch room fine by myself.”
“Yes we did,” said Addie, my best-friend.
“Yeah not only did we have to wait cause we’re awesome friends, people, etc.;-” started Phoebe, twin one.
“but also because a certain Isaac Rotwell was trying back and wait for you but we told him to get back to his girlfriend who was probably waiting for him at their table,” Finished Fiona, twin two.
I rolled my eyes and started down the hallway with everyone.
“You would think that the boy has a crush on me or something,” I said absent mindedly. It was quite while everyone nodded in agreement. “Hey where’s Daisy?” I asked when we were closer to the cafeteria. We enter the cafeteria as Addie nods over by our table where Daisy’s waiting for the rest of us.
“She had to use the bathroom. We told her she didn’t have to wait.” Daisy waved when she saw us come in to the cafeteria and we waved back. As we passed their table Taylor stuck her leg out and tried to trip Fiona, who graceful jumped over the out stretched foot and turned around to every so childishly stuck her tongue out at Taylor. Of course Taylor’s only answer for that was her to roll her eyes and turn to her boyfriend, Isaac, for a compliment.
“Does she have to be so mean? I mean come on its only the first day of school, why does she hate us so much. It’s not like we ever did anything to her,” Daisy said as we reached the table. Fiona shook her head as she put her books down on the table, whilst Addie laughed quietly to herself. Daisy, however, looked like she was serious, even though no one was going to give an answer to the question she asked in various versions every year.
“She’s mean to you guys because you present a very ginormous threat to her and her little posy of look a-likes,” answered a voice behind us. I turned just in time to see Kevin lean down to give Phoebe a hug.
Addie, who was on the other side of the table leaned across to hit him in the head, while asking, “Where’s your brother? He was supposed to meet at the bus stop this morning.”
Kevin looked at her confused, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a brother.” Which technically was true, because Tim is actually Kevin’s cousin; but since they live in the same house no one really bothers to remember that point. I could tell from the look on Addie face that she really didn’t care either. At the moment all she cared about was why her boyfriend was dicing her on the first day of school and she looked about ready to do anything to find out. Kevin had been with Phoebe long enough to know us all, so as we walked over to join the lunch line he tried to explain to a disbelieving Addie why her boyfriend hadn’t showed his face.
Just as Addie looked ready to hit Kevin again, Phoebe covered her mouth with her hand and gasped. I turned to looked in the direction her head was pointed in and then I closed my eyes and grimaced. Walking in the cafeteria was Addie’s boyfriend with a black eye and bruised arm. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes to find Addie with her hand over her mouth staring in shock at Tim as he walked over. Tim slid in to the lunch line with us just as we moved up so it wouldn’t look like he was cutting. “Hey guys,” he kind of whispered to the group, although he was looking at Addie.
She just shook her head and gave him a hug while asking, “What happened this time?” He took a moment to hug her back and then he pulled away and promised to tell the whole story once they were sitting down again. The rest way through the lunch line everyone was very sober; nobody knew what to say and we hadn’t even heard what had happened yet. When I finally got my food I didn’t think to look at what it was, my thoughts were too preoccupied with trying to figure out what happened to Tim. Naturally as we crossed the lunch room from the lunch lines to our table Tim created a stir of curiosity. I shook my head. A fight on the first day, I could already hear the gossip.